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*He is not a secret agent. Not at all.



I caught the first two episodes of Eleventh Hour (ITV) starring Patrick Stewart and created and written by Stephen Gallagher (who I know next to nothing about).

Stewart plays Ian Hood, a special government science advisor. Ashley Jensen also stars as Rachel Young, his special branch liaison and bodyguard. There series is a little bit of CSI, a little bit of X-Files and maybe just a tad bit of Bones. Each episode sees Hood investigating some kind of science-related crime or catastrophe.

In the first episode, "Resurrection," the subject is human cloning, as Hood investigates the discovery of 27 human fetuses, all with the same genetic profile. There is some balance (politically speaking) as Hood speaks of cloning gone wrong, but also expressing concern that these crimes could be used to quash the pro-stem cell movement. Ultimately, (and I'll be doing a bit of spoiling in saying this so continue at your own risk), the man behind the clonings is a guy desperate to get his dead son back, and damned be all that stand in his way, be it money, science or logic.

"Containment," the second episode, follows the outbreak of a new strain of small pox as Hood tracks down those who may be carrying it and figuring out exactly where it came from in the first place.

The actual investigations lack enough flash to be really interesting (to my U.S. TV-addled mind) and the show is paced at such a leisurely pace that it never really feels like it's getting a whole lot of momentum.

As I watched the first episode and thought that it wasn't very exciting, I found a lot of the character beats to be very interesting. There is a little bit of a babysitter relationship between Hood and Rachel. Hood, for instance, carries a "panic button" that he fails to use when he should and has a tendency to set off at the most inopportune times. And while obviously being a super-genius, he's kinda just a regular guy who can't necessarily work his computer right and can make dumb mistakes, especially in the heat of a tense moment.

When I set forth upon watching the second one, I was looking forward to these character bits, but there weren't nearly as many as in the first one. The ones that were there were pretty good though, such as when Hood asks Rachel to interrupt a meeting in which he has to justify his spending and a bit at the end regarding a robot toy.

Overall, the writing isn't working for me, but I'll watch more just because of those moments are because Patrick Stewart rawks. Hard.

And in revisiting Life on Mars, (BBC1) it's still approaching it's premise of 2006 cop displaced to 1973 very subtly. It's at its best when he's trying to use 2006 methodology in the face of 1973 hunches and beatings. One great scene sees his boss say, as they're approaching a bunch of union guys waiting around outside a murder scene, "The golden rule in all these cases is the first one to speak did it."

The intrusion and/or conflict between his life in 1973 and his apparent coma in the present rears its head, but not in as strong a way as I would like. In the third episode, they walk through a union shop/murder scene as Sam lays out how the place will be turned into flats in 30 years. When he comes upon the body, he realizes it is in his kitchen. I am going to keep with it and get caught up to see if that conflict becomes more prominent. Even if it doesn't, it's still kind of interesting to see an early 70's cop show with a modern sensibility.

Waiting patiently for new Doctor Who...
©2024 Michael Patrick Sullivan
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